Saturday, January 1, 2011


And so it's set to begin tomorrow... The hosts and 2nd ranked South Africa will take on the visiting team and top-ranked India in the deciding Third Test at Newlands, Cape Town. It has been an amazing series so far... and I hope it continues that way in the shadow of the Table Mountain from tomorrow.

Like I wrote in an earlier blog, India has not won two consecutive away Tests in the same series against a top-8 Test team for about 2 and a half decades. Now the challenge for them is to tame the No. 2 side in the world.


If India do manage to pull out a series win at Cape Town, the world will be a lot closer to acknowledging India's rank as No. 1 Test team. The English might still say that India needs to beat them later this year... and they would have a point there. England did not manage to beat South Africa last time they visited the Rainbow Nation, so India will be able to boast of a series win there... but the English will remind India that they just beat Australia in Australia... something that India has not quite managed for a number of years now. South Africa's claim to the No. 1 spot will be a lot subdued and India's tour of England might become another tussle for the No. 1 spot that India will have to win to justify the ranking.


If South Africa beat India at Newlands, be assured that they will claim themselves to be the 'unofficial' No. 1 Test team in the world. India's No. 1 ranking will then be referred to as just a piece of paper with some calculations. And then even if India beat England later in July - August, this defeat will keep on souring the taste of the No. 1 spot that they will in most likelihood maintain. With a win at Cape Town, South Africa, alongside England, will start thinking of themselves as the best in Tests... and India's tour to England will further complicate matters then. An Indian win will again make it a three-horse boasting race whereas an English win will intensify the two-horse race between South Africa and England.

(Note: No matter what South Africans would like to claim, the fact that there are a number of South African-born players in the English team shall not be considered as a point in their favour.)


Well, a draw at Newlands would keep the status quo. India will continue to call themselves as No. 1 (both officially and unofficially). South Africa will not be able to boast of the fact that they are the only team over the last 6 and a half years to have scraped through with a draw on tour of India... twice! Because a draw would mean that India has done the same. England's chants would continue and India's tour of England would be a decisive moment. If India draw the Test series with England as well, though the No. 1 ranking will still be in the bag, the team will be criticised for not being ruthless enough to finish teams off.


So if we really want an 'undisputed' No. 1 to emerge by the year end, the best we can hope for is an Indian win at Cape Town. I would certainly be hoping for that... though sadly, except for Day 1, I would not be able to follow the rest of it properly. I will have to be relying on Cricinfo commentary, SMS updates from friends and whenever possible, I will try and catch up a bit on the TV. I will be on the road for the about 10 days, which would mean that I would also miss another rendition of the 'Sprinkler Dance' (it it happens) at Sydney.

I hope that the four teams play out two cracking New Year Tests to kick of a year, which I hope will be another brilliant one for Test cricket.


Golandaaz said...

Beating Australia in Australia matters only so much as the points on offer.

For legitimacy of the #1 rank, I feel England can't ask of India to beat Australia.

While Australia was a strong team, it made sense. Not anymore

Unknown said...

Gol, you are absolutely correct and I would agree with you as an Indian fan.

But most English fans will not buy this argument. India's two previous tours of Australia (2003-04 and 2007-08) were occasions when Australia played without McGrath and Warne. So in effect, the Australian team that India faced was not that very superior from the Australian team that English are taming right now. They were still great... but not a whole lot greater.

In this context, India's tour of England becomes very pivotal.

Golandaaz said...

No doubt, India v England....its a summer to look forward to.

I believe we are also touring West Indies before that.

1971 was the last time India went to West Indies and England and won both series. The last time India were acknowledged to be the best in the world.

40 years on...and we repeat?

Unknown said...

I'd certainly like to think so. Beating West Indies in West Indies shouldn't be too much of a trouble now.

But my concern is that India play the first Test against England just about 10 days after finishing their last Test against West Indies. No practice games once again. There will be a 3-day practice fixture in the interim. I just hope this rush from one continent to another and the long span of time away from home does not hinder Team India.

Incidentally, I just stumbled upon the fact that the England v India 1st Test at Lord's (21-25 July 2011) shall be the 2000th Test match in the history of cricket. Fitting, isn't it? The creators of the game v. the current rulers of the game playing the landmark Test...

Anonymous said...

This background much better than the black one. Use tables or column tags for instance

Unknown said...

Thanks cricsphere... the change in the background colour was long overdue.